run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Friday 13 June 2014

Battenberg baking

Back in the day, the very best after-school treat was a little packet of Mr Kipling's mini Battenbergs. They were only ever a one-day wonder, because the six pack didn't last long in my house. But those almondy rectangles, with the pink and yellow chess-board centre, tasted so darn good I thought I'd try to bake my own.

The history books reckon the cake was created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg. Nice context, but I was more worried about how to use one loaf tin to make a two-coloured cake, without waiting around all night for two batches to cook. Turns out, it's not so hard.

time for tea

First, the recipe. This is a normal cake batter, and a simple recipe, but makes a cake so good that the lure of cut-off bits of unneeded Battenberg were enough to raise my husband from watching The Wire on the sofa three times - and not much keeps him away from it.

175g butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
three eggs
2 tbsp milk
Pink food colouring
Jam- apricot is traditional, but I didn't have any so used raspberry.
Slab of white marzipan (I went for shop-bought, it was only 50p, but you can make your own)
loaf tin

Step by step:

  • Before you turn on the oven, time for a little cutting and sticking. Line the loaf tin (or any small square or rectangular tin, if you’re OK with an unorthodox Battenberg shape) with parchment, then use a piece of folded tin foil to create a division going right down the middle of the tin. Folding it into a ‘T’ shape with the top of the ‘T’ lying on the bottom of the tin can help it stand up. Make sure the foil goes as high as the top of the tin.
  • Now get the oven blasting at 180°C
  • Mix the (softened, although I usually accidentally blast too long in the microwave so it’s runny and it doesn’t make a difference) butter and sugar, then add the eggs, flour and milk.
  • Once it’s all mixed, spoon half of the batter into one of the halves of the tin. Don’t worry if it leans a bit, the pink batter will soon be pushing equal pressure on the other side.
  • Add a few drops of pink food colouring to the rest of the mixture, and pour/spoon it into the other half of the tin.
  • Put it in the oven, and check after 25 minutes; take it out if a fork/skewer comes out clean, otherwise give it another 5 minutes.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, cut each in half, lengthwise, to create four long square-shaped tubes. You might have to trim them to make them flatter or straighter. Now put a yellow and a pink tube on the bottom, sticking them together with a covering of jam, and add the other two on top, pink on yellow and yellow on pink, again sealing with jam.
  • Roll out enough marzipan (if it’s sticky, a sprinkling of icing sugar will sort it out) to cover the cake
  • Spread a little jam all over the outside of the cake, and roll the marzipan around it like a present
  • Trim the ends, and if you want to look pro, etch a criss-cross pattern on the top of the marzipan.

Ta da, you have a Battenberg cake. After I spent an hour on the above process, I learnt my husband doesn’t like marzipan. All the more for me!


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